Protecting your limited company information online
WHERE CAN I FIND MY COMPANY INFO?
You can access Companies House information via http://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/
Incorporation Date, Registered Office Address, SAIL address, When Company Accounts are due, Business Activity, Trading Status,
Current and resigned officers
Director, Shareholder details - Names, part of your date of birth, address, Nationality, Role and Occupation, Directorships, we can also see the Directors signatures
Copies of Annual Returns, Confirmation Statements, Company Accounts, Charges against your business (mortgages)
Previous company names
You can search for names of disqualified Directors.
This is quite extensive and with other company information websites providing additional information, you need to be sure that you keep any personal and private information away from these registers.
Plus with the use of social media by companies and staff, dates of birthdays of staff, tracking movements etc. can all be used to build up a picture of your company
If you Google your Company Name, you will see your business name listed, not only at Companies House, but Company Check, Duedil, 192, Endole etc..
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR INFORMATION
For larger companies, that have physical offices, they would normally just use their business address or an accountants office. But, for smaller companies or those that are predominantly based at home or “in the cloud” it can be more difficult. You can take some steps to protect your home address from public view. If you would prefer not to have visits from customers, suppliers etc.
Firstly, you have the option to use a registered office address service, make sure that this is provided by a HMRC approved company, or an accountant. This allows you to use the address at Companies House as the official address of the company, so any correspondence from Companies House or HMRC will be sent there. Normally the forwarding of mail to the company either by scan or post is included in the charge. (always check before signing up to any of these services).
Secondly, by using an official address it provides your company with some credibility – if your clients and customers carry out a due diligence on your company and research your company online or suppliers may want a credit reference on the company.
One of the benefits of becoming a limited company is the reassurance this brings to suppliers, in contrast finding information on sole traders is a lot more difficult and many customers/suppliers may be a bit more wary of dealing with them.
Thirdly, the Directors may also use a “nominated address” as their contact address – this is commonly called a directors service address, the service address is used on the publically available online register.
This doesn’t mean you don’t have to provide your actual residential address to Companies House, as they will still require it, but this is kept private offline and only accessible by law enforcement agencies and credit rating agencies.
Finally, what address will you use for your customers and suppliers to write to? The registered office address only allows you to use the address at Companies House and HMRC, so many virtual office providers can also provide you with a Business Address. This allows you to use the address for all your business needs, online, on company stationery, websites etc.
So before you embark on setting up a company, please be aware of the information you provide. Look at how Companies House and other company information websites use the information – i.e. sell your details to marketing companies, competitors, your suppliers and individuals.
Other Steps to take to protect yourself…
In order to prevent anyone hijacking your company we always recommend signing up for Companies House Proof (Protected Online Filing) Scheme, which prevents anyone from filing paper versions and changes to the company information has to come from a single source.